I have never been to a home expo. While I had little to no interest in attending such an event for most of my life, since taking on the “joys” of home ownership several years ago I have experienced a shift in this perspective. After adjusting to life as a homeowner the seemingly unending stream of projects and the desire I had to make our home more livable resulted in me putting more focus on finding innovative and cost-effective solutions to the tasks I wanted to undertake. Realizing home expos existed for these sole reasons, I made a decision I would attend the annual Madison Home Expo when the event fit into my schedule. Unfortunately, I didn’t place finding a way to make a visit to the home expo fit into my calendar at a very high priority, which meant several years and expos came and went without me making good on my intentions to experience a home expo event.
Ultimately, persistence in my procrastination left me with no home expo experience leading into the winter of my “I have never...” year. As a result, I committed to making my first trip to such an event a part of my year of new experiences, carving out time to visit the expo during its usually scheduled time over this weekend. After obtaining a few tickets to the event, Rachael and I made plans to travel to the Monona Terrace for our first home expo experience this evening. We didn’t necessarily head into the event with any ideas or knowing exactly what to expect, but we were excited at the prospect of finally experiencing an event that had eluded us for some time.
When we arrived at the Monona convention center, we promptly found our way to the exhibition space and traded our tickets for entry. As we passed through the entrance to the exhibition hall we were greeted by a variety of booths and a bustling crowd of people. Expecting to encounter booths from builders and remodeling companies exclusively, I was initially caught off guard by the wide variety of organizations and products lining the home expo aisle. Around us, visitors chatted with merchants ranging from gutter sales representatives to artists. The diversity of goods and services for sale was incredibly vast, but I welcomed it openly.
After taking a few moments to gather our bearings, Rachael and I started our way through the aisles of the home expo with ample curiosity tinged with a bit of excitement. We took some time to look over innovative home products, to discuss solutions to problems we have with our home, and to look over some art that caught our eye. With so many options to occupy my attention, ideas on new projects I could undertake during the spring and summer months started to fill my mind. I was so wrapped up in the breadth of products and services around me that Rachael eventually had to keep me moving forward through the displays. There was no doubt I was having a good time, and that’s the last thing I expected from a visit to a home expo.
As we approached the midpoint of the exhibition space, Rachael and I passed a variety of booths offering similar products to those we had seen previously until my eyes fell upon a Wisconsin Cheese & Sausage Company booth resting near the center of an aisle. Surprised and excited by the find, I chuckled and promptly began walking toward the booth. “Meat?!? At a home expo?!? You’ve got to be kidding me!” I exclaimed as my feet carried me toward the location. Rachael rolled her eyes in response before reluctantly following my path through the crowd. As we approached, a man greeted us with a smile and immediately offered us some samples of his variety of summer sausage products. Happy to accept his offer, I tried each of the products he had to offer as I looked over the display. With each sample coming off as slightly more flavorful and moist as the last, I took a step back from the booth in a slight state of disbelief. “This stuff is good... Like, really good,” I said looking at Rachael. In that moment I decided I couldn’t leave the building without some of the product. That’s right. I went to a home expo, and the one thing I decided to buy was meat.
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I quickly completed my purchase at the Wisconsin Cheese & Sausage Company booth before Rachael and I continued into the lower level of the home expo. Continuing down the aisles, we tinkered with a few interactive displays and watched a few product demonstrations from a distance as to avoid getting sucked in by any of the overzealous salespeople. Although there were dozens more booths to look over throughout the remainder of the expo, the frequency of window, countertop, and home renovation displays became redundant after a while. As a result, the luster of the experience began to fade as we pressed deeper into the expo, which caused Rachael and me to move through the remainder of the space much faster than we had covered the first level of the event. A little more than one hour after we had arrived, we felt we had taken in what we could from the experience, and we were ready to call it an evening.